Anorexia is at least partially a metabolic disorder and not just psychiatric as previously thought, new research shows.
The genetic basis of anorexia nervosa overlaps with metabolic properties, lipids and body measurements, according to the researchers.
They say this does not depend on genetic factors that affect body mass index (BMI).
Dr. Gerome Breen, from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Center for Biomedical Research at Maudsley and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, at King's College London, said: "The metabolic abnormalities seen in patients with anorexia nervosa are most often associated with starving .
"But our research shows metabolic differences can also contribute to the development of these disorders.
"In addition, our analysis shows that metabolic factors may play a role that is almost or as strong as pure psychiatric effects."
Another finding is that the genetic basis of anorexia overlaps with other psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
Genetic factors associated with anorexia also affect physical activity, which can explain the tendency of people with anorexia to be very active, the study said.
Led by researchers at King & # 39; s College London and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this study was published in Nature Genetics.
Eight genetic variants associated with anorexia were identified in a large-scale association genome-wide study.
Anorexia is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease, and symptoms include dangerous low body weight, intense fear of weight gain, and a distorted body image.
This affects between 1% and 2% of women and 0.2-0.4% of men. He has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses.
The researchers combined data collected by the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative and the Working Group on Eating Disorders of the Genomic Soul Consortium.
The dataset includes 16,992 cases of anorexia and 55,525 controls, from 17 countries throughout North America, Europe and Australasia.
Professor Janet Treasure, also from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, said: "Over time there has been uncertainty about framing anorexia nervosa because of a mixture of physical and psychological features.
"Our results confirm this duality and show that integrating metabolic information can help doctors develop better ways to treat eating disorders."
The study concluded that anorexia might need to be considered a hybrid "metabolic-psychiatric disorder" and that it is important to consider metabolic and psychological risk factors when looking for new ways of treatment.
– Press Association